Ko Itakura is a 25 year old Japanese centre back who can also play as a defensive midfielder currently contracted to Manchester City where he has spent most of his time out on loan.

He made his debut in 2016 appearing five times as a substitute in Kawasaki’s 2017 winning championship season helping him win his first silverware in his first season. In 2019, he made his way to England to sign for one of the biggest oil clubs in history Manchester City. Having signed from Kawasaki Frontale, Ko Itakura spent his time out on loan to FC Groningen and Schalke 04 between 2019 – 2022 respectively.

While transitioning to European football Ko Itakura took a slow 6 month start to his FC Groningen career. Having played 22 times in his season first at FC Groningen he then went on to stay another year after his parent club and loan club agreed to the extension and a brilliant choice that was for the Dutch club. In 2020/21 season he was voted Groningen’s Player of the Year playing every minute in the league to help the club reach a 7th place standing.

On 19th August 2021 he made his way on loan to relegated side Schalke 04 in 2.Bundesliga with a view to make it a permanent transfer of £5 million but to due current financial issues at the club they were unable to make it happen even though they were promoted back at the first time of asking. This current status has lead to multiple clubs, including Fulham, to circle like sharks around a very promising player.

His stats at Schalke shows that he hardly gets any yellow cards only picking up three bookings in 31 games. Over those 31 fixtures, Schalke conceded a goal every 76 minutes which averages at 1.18 a game. And in 9 of the 31 league games he helped register a 28% clean sheet record.

Itakura is a defender who we have been seeking for so many years with his “this is my ball” mentality, throwing his body on the line for the team. He will play for the badge and is calculated in his judgement of defensive tackles without receiving many fouls. He is right footed who can operate on the left side centre back role which seems to be lacking not only at Fulham but football in general. He is comfortable on the ball making him ideal replacement for Tim Ream. Itakura has an aggressive positioning attitude where you can see a fit alongside Tosin Adarabioyo in Marco Silva’s Fulham side.

Best way to describe him is a no-nonsense defender which is clear to me why Marco Silva wants him.